Apple has faced mounting criticisms on working conditions and employee treatment at Foxconn, Apple’s China-based manufacturing partner, since The New York Times posted a controversial article about the matter. In response, CNET reports that ultra-billionaire Donald Trump has declared that Tim Cook should stand up and decree that all Apple products be made in the U.S.
Speaking on Fox News, Trump “trumpeted” (pun intended) such a move as an excellent way for Tim Cook to bring Apple into a new age of corporate ethics (Trump’s Apple-related comments begin at around the 4 minute mark).
Wouldn’t it be a great thing if the new leader of Apple said we’re going to start building plants in the United States. Maybe the incentive’s not there…but when 100 percent of Apple’s products–or virtually 100 percent–are made outside of this country, it’s pretty sad.
Of course, there are arguments on both sides. Moving manufacturing to the U.S. would deprive Chinese workers of thousands of jobs, which despite how conditions may be at Foxconn, people are still lining up to be hired into.
Apple would also face enormous cost increases. American manufacturing facilities tend to pay relatively low wages, and require large numbers of workers – it can be difficult to fill enough positions. Companies such as Intel partially overcome such hurdles by significantly automating their assembly line, and then hire a smaller number of well-paid workers.
While moving to U.S. manufacturing is one answer to the current concerns about Foxconn, perhaps a better answer would be for Apple and other companies to stand up to Foxconn and demand that conditions improve.
What puzzles me most, however, is that Apple seems to be getting all of the attention for this. Dell, HP, and others also use Foxconn’s facilities to a large degree, yet we don’t see people complaining about them. Go figure.